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Ian Baraclough relishing first Northern Ireland match in charge against Romania

Ian Baraclough
(Image credit: Gareth Copley)

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough has no new injury concerns ahead of the Nations League games against Romania and Norway.

Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan withdrew from the 26-man squad last Thursday as his wife is due to give birth in the coming days and has been replaced by Arsenal’s Dan Ballard.

Oxford winger Joel Cooper, who received his first call-up into the senior squad, suffered a head injury while playing for his club side but has shown no ill effects in training.

“One or two we have to be careful with because they are only two weeks into their pre-season really,” Baraclough said.

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“And one or two haven’t trained as much as they would have liked as well so we are having to taper the time a little bit. (But) all good. First session yesterday was lively. (I’m) very pleased.

“It’s a long time, 10 months, since we last got together. It was important we had a meeting yesterday to re-focus. Having been out of it for 10 months you can kinda forget where you are with everything that has been going on in the world.

“It was just a little chat among the whole group, staff as well, to re-focus on our goals for the next 18 months. I’m looking forward to it.”

Speaking about his first game in charge against Romania in Bucharest on Friday, Baraclough added: “Over the next few days we will complete the preparations and I’m looking forward to seeing how we perform.”

Following the Nations League games against Romania and Norway (at Windsor Park on September 7), Northern Ireland face Bosnia and
Herzegovina in their crunch European Championship qualifying play-off semi-final in October.